British billionaire Hamish Harding is among five people missing aboard a submersible that had set off on a voyage to the wreck of the Titanic.
He is an adventurer who has been to space, taken Buzz Aldrin to the South Pole and holds three Guinness World Records.
The 58-year-old chairman of private plane firm Action Aviation was inducted into the Living Legends of Aviation in 2022 where he was honoured for being an “enthusiastic pilot” and “experienced skydiver”.
He lives in Dubai with his wife Linda and two sons Rory and Giles, according to the awards body.
He has a stepdaughter named Lauren and a stepson named Brian Szasz, the Guardian reported.
Harding is one of the mission specialists on the five-person OceanGate Expeditions vessel reported overdue on Sunday evening about 435 miles south of St John’s, Newfoundland.
Shahzada Dawood and his son Sulaiman Dawood have been named as two of the other people on the submersible in a family statement.
A statement from the Dawood Family, obtained by CNN said: “As of now, contact has been lost with their submersible craft and there is limited information available.”
“We are very grateful for the concern being shown by our colleagues and friends and would like to request everyone to pray for their safety while granting the family privacy at this time. The family is well looked after and are praying to Allah for the safe return of their family members.”
A major search and rescue operation, which is being led by the US Coast Guard and involving military aircraft 900 miles east of Cape Cod, was continuing on Tuesday.
Harding has a natural sciences and chemical engineering degree from the University of Cambridge.
He holds three Guinness World Records – fastest circumnavigation of the Earth via both poles by plane, greatest distance covered at full ocean depth and the greatest duration spent at full ocean depth.
In 2019, Harding led a team of pilots and astronauts to achieve the first record in 46 hours, 40 minutes and 22 seconds.
This was to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, according to the Living Legends of Aviation.
But Harding has made more than one trip to the South Pole.
The awards body said that in 2016 he accompanied Mr Aldrin – who became the oldest person to reach the South Pole aged 86 – and took his son Giles in 2020, who became the youngest person to reach the South Pole aged 12.
In 2021, Harding dived in a two-man submarine mission lasting 36 hours to the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench with American explorer Victor Vescovo, breaking records by traversing the deepest part of the ocean for four hours and 15 minutes and travelling 4.6 kilometres along the sea floor.
In a post on Facebook to mark the five-month anniversary of the dive, Harding said: “Can’t believe it’s been that long already but absolutely can’t wait for our next mission/journey/adventure!”
In June 2022, Harding flew to space as part of the fifth human space flight run by Jeff Bezos’s company Blue Origin.
Months later in September, the adventurer won his Living Legends of Aviation award which he described as an “honour” in his acceptance speech before thanking his wife and two sons as well as his “very loving, very beautiful, very loyal” golden retrievers.